One morning, the caliph of Baghdad’s vizier ran to his master and fell to his knees, pale and shaking with fear, “I beg of you, my Lord,” he panted, “permit me to leave the city today!” “Why?” said the caliph. “This morning, while I was crossing the square, a man bumped into me in the crowd. I turned around and recognized Death. He was staring at me in a threatening way. My Lord, he’s looking for me.” “Are you sure it was Death?” “Yes, my Lord, he was dressed in black from head to toe and had a red scarf round his neck. Please, my Lord, he’s looking for me; let me leave this instant; I will saddle my fastest steed and, if I don’t stop on the way, I can be in Samarkand by the evening.” The caliph was very fond of his vizier so he let him go immediately. A little later, he went out of the palace, disguised, as he often did, to mingle with his subjects in town. On the square, he noticed Death and went up to him. “I’d like to ask you a question: my vizier is a young man in good health; why did you scare him this morning by staring at him in such a threatening way?” “It wasn’t a threatening look; it was a look of surprise. I wasn’t expecting to see him here, in Baghdad. I have an appointment with him this evening… in Samarkand!”On a sunny morning, last year, in London, innocent people met Death at the hands of murderers (not ‘martyrs’). A lot was said about the victims at the time and they are in the news again on this first anniversary of the atrocity. I felt very sorry for all of them, but particularly for those who died thinking they had cheated death a little while earlier – those who escaped from the hellish underground only to board the bus that was blown up in Tavistock Square.
Again I’m slapping everyone who condones those kinds of terrorist acts – wherever they are perpetrated.
I’m not sure if I’m also allowed to slap someone who is a survivor of 7/7… ok then, I will: in an interview in the Evening Standard, this man said, “Terrorist bombs are a daily routine in Iraq, but they also happen in Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, Bali, Madrid and so on…” One country is missing from that list; a country that should have been mentioned by name, not vaguely included in a general ‘and so on…’ I’ll give you a clue: it begins with the letter ‘I’ and suicide bombers have perfected their technique there over a great many years. Is it a memory lapse or is it perhaps that, like someone who was grilled by Melanie Phillips the other night on The Moral Maze, he believes that that particular country deserves it? One can have been through a terrible ordeal and still say objectionable things.